US Real Estate Predictions for 2017

It is with great sadness and generosity that my annual rollout of US. Real Estate predictions can proceed forward. This year will have more of a political bent given that 2016 was all about the politicos and the mental consternation it brought to the American psyche. Most often, real estate predictions are about hard numbers, sales expectations, housing starts, etc., etc., etc. Pretty dry stuff if you’re a normal human being, but if you’re a policy wonk or a real estate broker, it’s a nirvana jubilee. This year I shall call my prescient forecast “Sidney’s Pix Six”.

Millennials (Send in the Millennials)

According to Zillow magazine, “More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.” Unless you’re a devout racist, this is probably a good omen. Similar to the saying: Happy wife… happy life. An active housing economy saying is as follows: Happy labor market… happy America.

In addition, the 2017 National Housing Forecast is in lock step with Zillow, with its position that millennials and baby boomers are fully expected to constitute the majority of housing market participants in the coming year. The National Housing Forecast also noted “… that millennials will represent the largest share of buyers at 33 percent, a market ratio that has actually been lowered due, largely in part, to the impending interest rate hike”. In terms of the Mid-West, researchers believe they will lead the pack in aggregate purchases. “This year, average millennial market share in these markets is 42 percent, far higher than the U.S. average of 38 percent.”, said the report.

New home growth connected to Obama job creation

Will new housing starts have been better under Obama or the President-elect. There is varying opinion on that speculation, but here are what some for the pros say. “Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump”, says Dr. Svenja Gudell, the chief economist at Zillow. Furthermore, “A shortage of construction workers as a result may force builders to pay higher wages, costs which are likely to get passed on to buyers in the form of higher new home prices.”

Home Appreciation (The froth on the Top)

Even non-policy wonks like to sip the froth on the top. In real estate terminology, real estate home appreciation is the Eighth Wonder of the world. And according to Zillow, once again they’ve conveyed that sediment in numeric value. However, just like stats inherently lie, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s appreciation (remember, several years ago there’s wasn’t), the bad news is that it will be lower than 2016.

“Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values had risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.


The good news on this disappointing forecast, is that the slow pace in price growth will be great for home buyers, since a slower market means slightly lower prices. However, some real estate experts refer to this as Phase-two of the post-Recession market. Phase-one having been the boomer-rang of price acceleration after the market had hit dirt bottom. The other 800-pound gorilla expert in the room is, which anticipates a 3.9 appreciation rate, compared to Zillow’s 3.6.

Foreign buyers will play a smaller role (No Visa, No Dinero)

Lately, there’s been quite a bit of heightened drama with Number 45, even before he’s signed the lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Arguing with world leaders seems to be the new norm, given the tit-for-tat with China, England and others. This raises the question of foreign buyers. The word on the street is that foreign buyers will be a bit more circumspect, since they will now have to consider their own visa and permanent Alien status given the President-elects stance on immigration policies and visa reform. Translated: Hesitant foreign buyers will mean less buying on the home luxury market, a longtime favorite cash bucket for foreign nationals to invest their money in the states.

While Orange is the New Black, Small is the New Big (or vice versa)

Based on facts, not speculation, the median square footage for new homes in 2016 fell downward. That’s a canary in the coal mine event. Meaning it’s not good. The Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center notes there are serval reasons for this present and future shrinkage, which can be attributable to several factors: higher demand for homes close to city centers, the Tiny Home movement (thanks HGTV), and the Come to Jesus Moment of home builders who now realize that poor home buyers can only afford so much square footage. The solution, build smaller homes. Problem solved.

Loan Democracy is Loan Democratization

I have advocated residential mortgage loans that are more user friendly. And that’s just not me, it’s think tank policy wonks as well, since some are pro-business advocates. Translated: Increase the FICO score requirement, but allow buyers and market players (aka small investors), into the game with less money down. According to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, it’s easier to get a mortgage now than at any time in the past eight years.

Banks may also be more willing to work with borrowers over the next few years as they look to make up for a decline in refinancing business when interest rates go up. “The pendulum has been swinging toward a loosening of the credit box a bit,” says Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president with Attom Data Solutions. “I don’t think we’ll see a reversal of that with the new administration. We’ll likely see an acceleration.

—The Fiscal Times, November 22, 2016

In a nutshell, these are the primary issues of why 2017 will be different in terms of real estate. The reasons are fairly basic and logical. The newly elected president, and his administration have three major policies that are game changers. Think the following: 1) Infrastructure spending, 2) Tax cuts, and 3) Changes to immigration policy. The cause and effect will directly effect new construction starts and mortgage rates.

So there you have it. One hates to be the bearer of bad (and good) news. May we have a propitious year and hope the real estate Gods are open minded to their favorite Son.

Source by D Sidney Potter

New Promising Features Are Introduced to the Android Nougat

Although available currently for the Google Pixel and the Nexus phones, the latest Android Nougat has a number of improvements in its latest version 7.1.1. It allows for a lot to be done with your smartphones and a lot of features that Android developers can use to create modern and innovative mobile apps. Here are some of the features that make Android Nougat better in terms of user experience and productivity:

3D Touch type

This feature was initially only available for the Pixel phones. But the Android 7.1.1 update makes these features now available for all phones running the Android operating system. This feature allows you to tap the app icon and hold it until you see a sub menu that contains certain app specific quick options on a pop up. This gives you quick access to certain features of the app.

Split screen apps

You can now run two applications side by side on a single screen. There is a option to enable the recent apps multitasking option. You can then choose which apps to see simultaneously on the screen. For example, you can browse the web and work on a document at the same time. You also have the ability to drag an image or text from one app and drop it into another.

Double tap to switch apps

You can simply double tap the multitasking button or the recent apps button to switch apps instantly. To return to the current app, you need to simply double tap again.

Data saver

Smartphone apps sometimes continue sending and receiving data even when in the background. If you do not have the right data plan configured from your network carrier, this might turn out to be very expensive. With the latest version of Android Nougat, you can simply turn on Data Savings mode and specify which app can access data in the background.

Notification controls

If you wish to stop notifications from a particular app, you no longer need to sift through individual app-settings. All you need to do is to pull down the notifications bar and choose the app that you do not wish to see notifications from and select your preference for the app: “show notifications silently”, “block all notifications” or “don’t silence or block”.


Emojis are not a part of all conversations. The number of emojis has been increased depicting a range of professions and a lot more expressions. You can also send animated GIF images directly from the on-screen keyboard while you use supported apps such as Google Messenger and Hangouts.

Google has confirmed that currently only 0.4% of the smartphones are running this update currently – globally. This will change significantly and a lot more phones will have this update rolled out. The Android Nougat has a lot of promising new features that can be effectively used by app developers to create apps that are in line with the latest and greatest trends in the mobile domain.

Source by Ronak B

Maternity or Pregnancy Insurance Options in North Carolina

If you are currently pregnant, your options, in order of desirability, are Medicaid, group insurance, and prepayment plans. After you are pregnant, it is not possible to issue an individual policy. Application will automatically be declined. If you are in the process of planning your pregnancy, the best options for minimizing your maternity costs are Medicaid, group insurance, individual insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield, prepayment plans, in order of descending desirability.

The average total maternity charges submitted to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina in 2007 was $20,015 per pregnancy 1. A patient may be required to pay this full amount, however many families negotiate with hospitals and providers to pay a discounted rate when the only option is to pay out of pocket.

When planning to cover the costs of maternity the four primary options in North Carolina are as follows:

1. Group maternity insurance coverage. This is often the most advantageous way to pay for maternity costs because many group policies cover maternity for all females on the policy without an additional rider. Also, if you are already pregnant, and don’t meet the income requirements for Medicaid, this is your best shot at getting your pregnancy covered by an insurance company. Additionally, some group policies do not consider pregnancy a preexisting condition, so this is a good option to consider if you are already pregnant.

After the charges have been submitted to the insurance company, it is worthwhile to ask the hospital if you can get a discount by paying the deductible in full as opposed to making payments over time. I am aware of instances where the deductible has been discounted for a prompt payment in full.

2. Individual maternity insurance coverage with Blue Cross Blue Shield. At the date of this writing, I am only aware of one individual health insurance company in North Carolina that offers coverage for maternity. The company is Blue Cross Blue Shield and the policies are Blue Advantage® and Blue Options HSA sm. I am not aware of any individual health insurance policy that will cover you after you are already pregnant. HumanaOne previously offered an individual maternity policy, but has since discontinued it. I am generally skeptical of small health insurance companies, if you are even able to find one that offers maternity, because they are often on tight budgets and as a result their policies often contain ungainly loopholes.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield individual policy is somewhat similar to a prepayment plan through a hospital, as the premiums for adding the maternity rider are fairly substantial. However, the benefit of the policy is that, in the event of a pregnancy that involves complications, your costs are much more predictable. Pregnancies with complications are often significantly more expensive than a normal delivery, so this option is more desirable than a straight prepayment plan.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s maternity plan uses the deductible and coinsurance of the plan it is attached to, so it is important to evaluate the varying cost of maternity riders within the context of the deductible and coinsurance of each plan. For example, suppose the maternity rider for a plan was $350 per month. Suppose this plan has a $2,500 deductible with 100% coinsurance. Now the total cost for the pregnancy over the course of a year is $350 times 12 months = $4,200 + the $2,500 deductible = $6,700 for the pregnancy. Now, suppose a second plan had a maternity rider for $450 per month. Suppose this plan has a $1,500 deductible with 100% coinsurance. Now the pregnancy would cost $450 times 12 months = $5,400 + the $1,500 deductible = $6,900. With this hypothetical scenario, the first option is better even though the deductible is higher. The purpose of this example is the illustrate the importance of paying attention to how much it costs to lower your deductible.

With Blue Cross Blue Shield’s maternity plan, it is also important to plan the timing of the pregnancy. The individual deductible reset every January 1st, so it is best to start a maternity policy at the beginning of the year and start trying to get pregnant at that point. Otherwise, the pregnancy will overlap calender years and you may have to meet your deductible more than once.

3. Medicaid maternity coverage. Visit the NC state Medicaid website for current income eligibility requirements.

4. Prepayment plans. I you are already pregnant, a prepayment plan is a last resort. In this case, you should contact the prenatal and delivery caregivers to negotiate a prepay rate. Many hospitals offer discounts for paying out of pocket in advance. When conducting prepayment negotiations it is important to be very specific about what is covered by the arrangement and if the price includes complications of pregnancy, or only normal delivery.


Overall, from a financial perspective, Medicaid is typically the least expensive option, followed by group insurance. Individual maternity with Blue Cross Blue Shield is the third most desirable as a measure to minimize the cost of unexpected complications of pregnancy. The fourth option is the prepayment plan negotiated directly with the provider.

1. Average charges submitted to Blue Cross Blue Shield NC for maternity services, professional and hospital etc. in 2007. Your charges may vary.

Source by David Goebelt

Feeling Underwhelmed? If You’re Not Engaging Your Talents, Education, and Passions, You Probably Are

One of the primary reasons that leads people to feeling underwhelm (instead of ‘just whelmed’) is…

  • Work (or a life) that doesn’t engage your talents, education, or passions.

Some people experience the feeling of being underwhelmed for a day or even a week if it’s filled with tasks, requests, and expectations that are menial or mindless. Those sorts of days serve as reminders about why we are glad that such days are the exception rather than the rule. On the other hand, the “losing steam” version of underwhelm is when you have felt underutilized and disengaged for months and possibly years. Sometimes you know right away when you’re in a job (or a relationship) that’s going to underwhelm you, but other times, it just creeps up slowly but surely. Maybe there’s a new “leader” or the politics change and somehow, you’re now in a situation that is underwhelming.

Whatever it is, if personally or professionally you are underwhelmed on a continual basis, you need to find out why and see if it is because your talents, strengths, passions, and expertise are not being tapped. Once you know that, you can start to do something about it.

Consider these emotions (and words) that may be associated with this state of affairs:

  • bored
  • lethargic
  • blase
  • world-weary
  • disinterested
  • affronted

Statements that might come out of your mouth when you’re living a life that doesn’t engage your talents, education, or passions include:

  • I’m just going through the motions.
  • Each day sort of blends into the next one.
  • I feel insulted by what they are asking me to do at work–don’t they know I have a degree?
  • I could do so much more if they’d just ask me to work on the projects that excite me.

I read a story one time about an employee who after many years of working for a company said,

“For 30 years they paid for my hands. I would have given them my brain for free.”

Ouch. What’s the cost – to you as an individual when you (or others) are consistently underwhelmed?

  • Personally: You watch your normally upbeat personality seep away.
  • Personally: You feel like you don’t even want to get up in the morning.
  • Personally: You start to question whether it even matters that you ________ (go to work, do your job, be there with your family, or whatever it is that is underwhelming you).

Organizations (i.e., companies, universities, schools, government agencies, non-profits) need to take a look at the enormous costs of having UNDERwhelmed employees, such as:

  • Organizationally: Smart, talented people aren’t delivering what they’re capable of.
  • Organizationally: People with the potential to be fabulous employees will leave and go work somewhere else.
  • Organizationally: Morale among your underwhelmed colleagues is low and begins to affect others’ morale as well. It doesn’t take long for the “public” to feel this, too.

The costs of putting people or leaving people in underwhelm are enormous and are not ones that individuals, families, small businesses, schools, non-profits, or ANY OTHER GROUP can afford.

If you suspect that you are underwhelmed because your talents and strengths are not being tapped – and if you are even wondering whether anyone (including you!) even know what your strengths are, then take one of the various assessments that is available from a reputable company (like Gallup) that will help you understand and acknowledge your strengths. It will also be helpful to join with others who are seeking to be ‘just whelmed’ instead of underwhelmed.

Source by Meggin McIntosh

Land Development Values – Rules of Thumb

People who want to invest in land to either “develop” it (as that term is defined in the articles in this Land Development Values series) or to build on it and sell a total package (e.g., a new home on its lot) have to sift through many parcels because everybody wants to try to sell them a property! The process of identifying the parcels that are worth pursuing, therefore, is very time consuming, and land buyers need tools to enable them to quickly weed out the junk and identify those parcels that warrant further consideration. So buyers typically use rules of thumb and formulas for their preliminary screening.

These rules of thumb are designed to provide rough estimates relating to the yield of a site and different cost factors because these are the key aspects in calculating the “right” price they should pay for the land. By defining the price at which the numbers work, land buyers can see within minutes if the seller’s asking price is realistic. If the land parcel is substantially overpriced, the buyers can simply discard the property and move on to better prospects.

Commercial Land Developments
Not surprisingly, the methodology for roughly estimating site yield and improvement costs is not the same for both residential and non-residential land developments. For retail or office parcels, the yield is the amount of potential building space that can be built. This is usually a function of the number of parking spaces that will fit on the parcel and taking into account the overall development limits imposed by impervious coverage and green space requirements set by the zoning ordinance. One rule of thumb might be used to estimate the total amount of land area needed for each car that would be parked on the office property (e.g., square feet for parking space plus drive aisle). Another would approximate the amount of land area taken up by sidewalks and walkways. A third rule of thumb might assume that the cost for vertical and horizontal improvements would be $100/sq. ft. of office space.

Residential Land Developments
The rules of thumb applied to residential land developments would be designed to estimate the number of building lots that the parcel could produce once the subdivision had been completed, and the cost for horizontal improvements. The value of each “raw” building lot would be calculated based on the projected sale value of the finished product (house on its lot) and the improvement costs.

One site yield rule of thumb might net out of the gross land area of the parcel the amount of square feet that would be wasted or couldn’t be used for whatever reason and then would divide the result by the amount of the minimum lot size required by the zoning to come up with the number of lots. For example, the rule of thumb calculations might look like this for a 15 acre vacant parcel zoned for 20,000 sq. ft. lots:

Step 1: 43,560 sq. ft. x 15 acres = 653,400 sq. ft.
Step 2: 653,400 sq. ft. x 70% = 457,380 sq. ft.
Step 3: 457,380 sq. ft. divided by 20,000 sq. ft. = 22.87 building lots

The final result is always rounded down, so there would be roughly 22 building lots for this parcel. In the second step, 30% of the gross site area was deducted to account for wastage, square feet lost because of natural constraints (e.g., slopes, floodplain, irregular shape) and land area that would be taken up by new roads in the community.

Remember that rules of thumb can vary by geographic area. They are rough estimates so you should modify them as circumstances warrant and not just apply them blindly. If a substantial portion of the 15 acre parcel was in floodplain, it wouldn’t make any sense to deduct only 30% from the total gross site area. If you’re not sure what rule of thumb to use, be conservative.

Source by Nancy Chadwick

The Effects of Globalization on Both Accounting Profession and Education

Innovations in technology has catapulted the financial district into a global market. Globalization has had a large influence on the way businesses conduct business. Firms are not only responsible for being privy to information involving consumers in their own backyard but also understanding consumer culture as well as economic, political, and legal structures that exist in other countries. Due to the influence globalization has had on businesses, it has changed the expectations that are required of incoming business students and their education. More specifically, accounting students are being impacted by the changes globalization has influenced the market with. These students are challenged more particularly throughout their undergraduate years to understand not only the rules and regulations of GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles) but also the standards set forth by the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). Within the accounting sphere, the primary focus has been on external reporting which involve the preparation of financial statements and auditing. However, due to the ever changing world of the global market, future accountants are required to possess perspectives that influence both external and internal reporting. The market will continue to change due to the fast paced journey of information making globalization an important factor in accounting education.

Businesses in the United States have largely adopted GAAP which is a guide to how business are to construct financial information to produce statements. GAAP has been useful in the last couple of years because it facilitates the way businesses in the U.S. communicate with each other. However, in the global environment, GAAP proves to be burdensome for most companies. Overseas, they have adopted IFRS which is another guide to producing financial information which aids foreign companies with communicate amongst each other. Most countries use IFRS as a basis for the way business transactions are conducted. Since most of the world is using IFRS as the standard it leaves the U.S. with the tedious task of having to incorporate two different principles to conduct business. In the article, “How Globalization is Affecting U.S. Accountants” by Bruce Pounder, Pounder states that “U.S. accountants will find themselves at a severe disadvantage to the many foreign accounting professionals who have already mastered international accounting standards and who are therefore much better-positioned to take advantage of rapidly growing career opportunities in China, India, and other emerging economies” (Pounder, 2007, p. 3). He then goes on to predict that as GAAP becomes more overshadowed by IFRS, U.S. accountants will find their skills and knowledge becoming obsolete. Therefore, IFRS has become more integrated into the accounting curriculum for education. Students are required to understand not only GAAP but IFRS and the changes that occur when working with both. By involving IFRS into the learning process, students will be prepared to later take the CPA Exam which has recently been updated to include information about IFRS in the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section. Students are becoming better equipped with skills and information that will make them more marketable and efficient in the globalized business environment.

In the U.S. economy, a thriving financial sector is usually supported by a strong public accounting and auditing firms. Therefore, the focus over recent years has been to ensure that accountants excel at compiling information involving a company’s assets, liabilities, equity, investments, etc. However, due to globalization, external accounting practices aren’t as valued if internal practices are not also implicated. Internal practices are important because it shapes the way businesses reach their customers in the foreign market. Authors Paul Danos and Richard L. Measelle stated in their article, “Globalization of the Business Environment: Implications for Accounting Profession and Business Education”, that “In a competitive global market place, the internal accountant must be sensitive to what drives the costs of products and he/she must work with production and marketing people to rationalize all cost accounting procedures” (Danos, 1990, p. 79). The responsibilities of the internal accountant is becoming more critical to the success of businesses. For a business wanting to expand into foreign territory, cost accounting is used to accurately develop product price information, location of manufacturing facilities, picking suppliers, etc. Due to these factors, internal accountants have to be familiar with regulations across borders, tax treatments, and currency conversion costs. When it comes to public accounting, auditors must be heavily versed in global accounting standards because “the world’s economies are becoming increasingly interdependent… ” (Needles, 2010, p. 602) according to Belverd E. Needles Jr. author of the article “Accounting Education: The Impact of Globalization”. The author goes on to encourage global standards for auditors because it strengthens their practices by only having to be familiar with those regulations. In order to be well versed in the global market, accounting students are advised to take courses specifically designed to analyze different cultures, languages, and political factors that influence societies.

Globalization has influenced many changes that have taken place in both the accounting profession and education. Students are now exposed to problems that occur in the global market and how to go about solving them. Not only are these students expected to understand all the mathematics and jargon involved with the business world, but they are also expected to have a good sense of foreign consumer culture as well as the regulations bound to each country. Implemented with these skills, students will be able to excel in the new business world.


Danos, P., & Measelle, R. L. (1990). Globalization of the Business Environment: Implications for the Accounting Profession and Business Education. Human Resource Management, 29(1), 77-84

Needles, B. E. (2010). Accounting Education: The Impact of Globalization. Accounting Education, 19(6), 601-605. doi: 10.1080/09639284.2010.501578

Pounder, B. (2007). How Globalization is Affecting U.S. Accountants. Montvale: Institute of Management Accountants.

Source by Jazmin I Bannister

Reasons to Find a Custom Home Builder

Building your own house can be hard and daunting. There are many things to consider such as, the budget, planning and most especially how to build a fully furnished best quality place you can call, Home.

A custom home builder can help you with a problematic task of doing home plans and making house designs exactly the way you want it. They work with architects or they may provide home design services along with their building skills.

There are several considerations why you should find a custom home builder. These reasons will guide you for a more comfortable and hassle free experience of building your very own dream house.

  1. You need to plan your budget allotted for your house. You need to know how much it will cost. Chances are you will need a construction loan and mortgage (banks sometimes already have list of properties). Custom home builders can help you with the expenses because they know the right and best materials to use and know where to find these at affordable prices.
  2. Home plans guide you with the illustration of the whole house. A home plan is very important for planning your space, setting a budget and scheduling construction. This requires an expertise of a custom builder and an architect.
  3. Thirdly, you should consider planning on conceptualizing your home design. Home builders can give you heads up of what your house will suppose to look like. The details of a custom-designed home will be created specifically for the family who will live there.
  4. It is more advisable to choose a professional home builder over part time constructors since they are more experienced and can be trusted. To know more about the home builder that you choose, you can check out how long they have been in the construction business and also projects they have undertaken. Testimonials and reviews on the internet can be a very good source in searching for the right custom home builder.
  5. Custom home builders offers added features that can be added in your house plan and they also provide after sales services and warranty in case something goes wrong of if any tiny problems arise.

It is an exciting feeling to build your own house that is why custom home builders are very important for us to bring into reality our wish for a perfect home. There are a lot of them out there that can give the right services that we need. Nowadays, some house builders design houses for people with disability and they also provide advices how to get the best loans.

Source by Dashiell Wood

Why Art and Music Education is Important

For the past ten years, public schools have had trouble funding school programs such as art class and music class. Not having at least some kind of music or art education gives kids a severe disadvantage when they enter college and the work place. In art and music classes, children learn to be creative and use other parts of their brain besides the logical part of the brain used in most school subjects. Also, studies have shown that music and art help kids in other subjects like science and math. Studies have shown, too, that art and music class can help kids gain confidence needed to succeed in school and in the professional world. Finally, in art class, students learn how to use tools like drafting chairs and drafting tables that many professionals use, such as architects and graphic designers. Therefore, it is essential that public schools make sure they get the funding they need to keep these programs alive.

Music and art classes teach kids about creativity. When children are being creative they are using a different part of their brain that they do not use in regular classes, like math and science. It is important to develop this creative part of the brain, so kids have a better chance at being successful in their chosen career path. For example, a child who wants to go into advertising as a career choice will need to have creativity to come up with new and innovative ads for a company. If kids only have an education in science, math, English, and social studies, then they will not be prepared for life after school.

There have been many studies that have proven that art and music education help kids do better in their regular classes. It is a fact that a good music education leads to better math grades. Art education helps teach children to be creative, which then helps them learn to come up with creative solutions to problems given to them in other classes. For example, in science class being creative would help the student come up with innovative and new hypothesis in class, which may result in better grades. Art and music class are important in helping teach children tools that can be applied to other classes.

Tools that are used in the art classroom and instruments used in music class teach kids how to be responsible for expensive equipment that they will most likely be working with for future employers. For example, having a child be put in charge of a musical instrument helps teach the child responsibility and it helps teach them to be respectful of equipment that is not theirs. This is important because employers will expect there future employees to be able to be responsible and take care of any materials that will be on loan to the employee, like a computer, for example.

Public school boards need to make sure that music and art programs in their schools are well funded. Art and music education helps teach children the creativity that is needed for numerous jobs. Art and music classes also help teach children tools that can be used in other classes that will help improve their grades. Finally, using instruments and art supplies in these classes help teach kids responsibility and respect for items that are not theirs. Children who do not have any kind of music or art education will surely be at a disadvantage when entering college or the work force.

Source by Connor R Sullivan

Box Store Replacement Windows – Are You Getting the Best Replacement Window Available?

Lowe’s or Home Depot make replacement windows very easy. They provide a turn key service to provide you the windows, offer you the support in getting them ordered and even provide an installation option to install them. By creating a “one stop shop” the large stores can cover it all. However, how do you know if you are getting the best window replacement project that you can from the large box stores? The information below details three areas you should consider when choosing a box store to supply your replacement windows.

Window Quality

Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have several options to choose from when selecting replacement windows. To begin, each store carries their unique brand of window that is only found in their store. Lowe’s carries the Reliabilt vinyl line and Home Depot carries American Craftsman vinyl windows. Both window lines are unique to each company meaning you will not be able to find the window brands outside of their respective stores. If you are worried about the quality of the “house” brand of windows, you should know that in a 2007 Consumer Reports test, the Reliabilt scored highest of the vinyl windows tested and the American Craftsman scored third.

In addition to their store brand windows, Lowe’s replacement windows offering also includes the Pella brand. Pella has been in the window and door business for over 75 years and has a reputation for delivering quality products. Pella’s service support after the sale insures that if you have problems with your window, it will be resolved. Home Depot carries the Andersen and Jeld Wen brands. These are large window manufacturers that have years of research behind their product. Like Pella, purchasing Andersen or Jeld Wen windows insures you are getting the support from the manufacturer after the purchase from the box store.

Window quality should not be considered a major concern when purchasing from the box stores. With house brands ranking at the top of Consumer Reports, and other brand name window companies available, you will be able to find a product that meets your level of quality.

Experienced Personnel

Purchasing and ordering windows is by no means brain surgery. However, there are many different factors involved with ordering replacement windows and it requires someone familiar with the process to insure the order is correct. The challenge homeowners face with stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot is getting consistency in the experience of employees. While each store has personnel that are dedicated and trained to specific departments of the store, it is not always easy to determine how much experience that person has with the product they are selling. An employee in millwork (windows) today could have been in electrical three weeks ago.

This is not to say that whomever you purchase replacement windows from at either store does not know what they are talking about. Both stores hire strong personnel, train well, and are very willing to help customers. Even so, you should always make sure the person helping you with your replacement windows is the most qualified person at the store. This will insure the details are covered and your order is correct.

Quality of Installation

One of the attractive aspects of the large home improvement stores is that they provide installation services along with the replacement windows. The “one stop shop” aspect makes it easy for homeowners to not have to search for a contractor to install their windows. In addition, the large stores offer installation pricing that is relatively inexpensive to fit most project budgets.

Before you commit to having the store’s installers perform the work you should always research other installers to perform the work. Find out what the average installation costs are for your area. Chances are when you compare the installation prices to the Lowe’s or Home Depot prices, you will find that the box store price is significantly cheaper than a professional installation company or an installer.

Before you think you are getting the steal of the century keep this in mind: The process to remove and replace a window is basically the same whether you do pay $100 or $200 an opening to get it done. If the work is getting done for $100, in order for the installer to make the same amount of profit as the $200 installer, they either have to cut material costs or reduce labor costs. If material costs are cut, you might not get the best caulk or the highest quality trim around the windows. This can lead to rotting wood and leaking windows.

Likewise, for contractors charging $100 to install a window, they have to install twice the number of windows to make the money the $200 per window installer does. This means they would have to spend half the time installing one window. If the basic process is the same, how good is the installation if they are taking half the time to complete it? The large stores use volume to offset their low installation price and in order to achieve volume they must install as many windows as they can in as short a time as possible. Keep this in mind when considering the quality of the installation that you will receive for the price point that the large box stores offer.

(The above statements are not meant to disparage the box store installers. They are good hardworking people like you or me and put effort into the work they do. Just be aware of how the system operates before beginning a project with a box store so you are not surprised at the results if they are less than desirable.)

Source by Justin M Howe

7 Minutes of Push-Ups and Sit-Ups in the Morning Will Kick-Start Your Testosterone Level

Happy and healthy is a reflection on or hormone levels more than it is revealing that we somehow have a magical life of no problems. Indeed life is full of problems and challenges and it is normal. But when we have the right hormonal soup in our system, it is this that keeps us on an even keel and we can cope with the challenges. Back in the days of the new frontier, between murdering the Indians and cutting down trees and clearing the land, some days would be easy and others very hard and so our body and brain always kept a higher level of testosterone in our system to cope with the sudden challenges we could be faced with. Because the men of those days were always dealing with sudden increases of heavy demands, their brains always maintained high reserves of testosterone to be ready and able to deal with them.

Today a hard day means you made a mistake with the office politics or accidentally deleted an email you shouldn’t have. In the modern world means standing in a long line at the supermarket checkout counter – and has nothing to do with hunting a wild animal for many hours to get something to eat. And the modern existence is not so bad, but smarter and wiser people always do certain things to increase their preparedness for the unexpected. Any person who when they wake up in the morning begins their day with a sudden burst of heavy exercise that creates the burning sensation in their muscles will find they have a sudden release of testosterone in their system not only for the current day that they face but also for when they wake up the next day.

A wise person prepares for the unexpected, and any man who wants to win the coming challenges of any day will definitely start his new days with a burst of push-ups and sit-ups to get his testosterone level heading the right way.

Source by Phil Jarvie